JOHN CAGE, American composer died (b. 1912) An American composer, Cage was a long-term collaborator and romantic partner of choreographer Merce Cunningham. He is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4’33”, whose three movements are performed without a single note being played. He was a pioneer of chance music, non-standard use of musical instruments and electronic music. Though he remains a controversial figure, he is generally regarded as one of the most important composers of his era.

One of Cage’s works, Organ2/ASLP (“as slow as possible”), is currently being performed near the German township of Halberstadt, in an imaginative interpretation of Cage’s directions for the piece. The performance is being done on a specially-constructed autonomous organ built into the old church of St. Burchardi. It is scheduled to take a total of 639 years after having been started at midnight on September 5, 2001. The first year and half of the performance was total silence, with the first chord ‒ G-sharp, B and G-sharp ‒ not sounding until February 2, 2003. Then in July 2004, two additional Es, an octave apart, were sounded and were scheduled to be sounded on May 5, 2007. But at 5:00 p.m. (16:00 GMT) on Thursday, January 5, the first chord progressed to a second — comprising A, C and F-sharp — and is to be held down over the next few years by weights on an organ being built especially for the project.

In addition to his composing, Cage was also a philosopher, writer, print maker and avid amateur mycologist and mushroom collector.

Cage self-identified as an anarchist in a 1985 interview: “I’m an anarchist. I don’t know whether the adjective is pure and simple, or philosophical, or what, but I don’t like government! And I don’t like institutions! And I don’t have any confidence in even good institutions.”